Why Is My Car’s Engine Temperature So Erratic?

If your car, truck, or utility vehicle’s engine temperature keeps going back and forth between hot and cold, this is a sign that the thermostat is malfunctioning. We will talk more about this below. Del Hatt Automotive advises that you can expect to get about 150,000 miles out of your car’s thermostat. Some die sooner than that and some last longer. Either way, you need to replace the thermostat once it starts to go bad. Failing to do so can cause damage to your engine that could have been avoided.

Erratic Engine Temperatures

The reason why your engine’s temperature will go from cold to hot and back to cold again when the thermostat is malfunctioning is that the thermostat uses coolant into the engine once it needs it. It uses a valve to release and block the coolant at the appropriate times. If the thermostat is unable to read the engine’s temperature correctly, it will release the coolant in spurts that will cause the erratic temperature changes. You will see these temperature changes on your dashboard.

Corrosion on the Thermostat

The thermostat can start to have problems before it malfunctions as discussed above, however. If you take a good look at your car’s thermostat, you may see that it is corroded. Corrosion is an indication that the thermostat has a small leak through the valve. In some cases, the valve might be stuck and unable to open. Consequently, coolant will seep out of the valve and begin to rust the thermostat. Replacing the thermostat will resolve this problem and prevent additional damage.

Leaking Engine Coolant

Additional damage can include a more severe leak from the thermostat. In this case, you will end up with puddles of engine coolant on your garage floor. In some cases, the leak may only be bad enough to leave you with spots on the garage floor. Either way, it’s important to replace the leaking thermostat to avoid low coolant levels in the cooling system. Once the thermostat has reached the end of its life, it can be expected that it will start to leak and/or malfunction.

Constant Overheating

All of these things can make your car, truck, or utility vehicle’s engine overheat every time you drive the automobile. This is what damages the engine. If you drive your vehicle with an engine that is overheating, you can blow a head gasket, and exhaust manifold gasket, or crack the engine block.

Don’t take chances. Call Del Hatt Automotive in Poughkeepsie, NY, right away if your engine is overheating or you believe your thermostat is going bad.

Photo by pandemin from Getty Images via Canva Pro

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